Aug 31, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Biden: "I am not banning fracking"

Joe Biden on Monday rebutted President Trump's claim that the Democratic nominee would seek to ban fracking, the oil-and-gas extraction method that has enabled a surge in U.S. production over the last decade.

Why it matters: The remarks came during a speech in Pennsylvania, a critical swing state Trump carried in 2016 where fracking-enabled natural gas development is a major industry. Nearby Ohio, which Trump also won, is also a big gas-producing state.

  • "I am not banning fracking. Let me say that again. I am not banning fracking. No matter how many times Donald Trump lies about me," Biden said.

Flashback: Some of the confusion around Biden's policy stems from a March debate with Sen. Bernie Sanders when Biden said, "No new fracking."

  • Biden's energy and climate platform aims to thwart new oil-and-gas development on federal lands and waters, but it does not call for a national ban on fracking that would affect private lands, where the nation's oil-and-gas boom has been centered.
  • His campaign later clarified that Biden was restating his existing platform — not endorsing Sanders' call for a nationwide ban.
  • Such a ban would require congressional action, which is extraordinarily unlikely.

Where it stands: During his speech, Biden promoted his backing for renewable energy while he emphasized that he doesn't favor a fracking ban.

  • "We won’t just build things back the way they were before, we’re going to build them back better with good-paying jobs, building our nation’s roads, bridges, solar arrays, windmills."
  • He called for a "clean energy strategy that has a place for the energy workers right here in western Pennsylvania."

Yes, but: While he does not support a ban on fracking, Biden's overall platform calls for an accelerated transition away from fossil fuels via several policies, including a target of 100% carbon-free power by 2035.

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